The 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, a feast of music

November 20, 2015 -- 9:00 am PST

Mexican singer and songwriter Natalia Lafourcade, was the big winner at the 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, celebrated at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Thursday night.

Lafourcade, who had won a Latin GRAMMY with her group  Natalia y La Forquetina in 2006, began the day nominated in five categories and won four, including Record Of The Year and Best Alternative Music Album for "Hasta La Raíz, and Song Of The Year and Best Alternative Song, for its title track.

She was kept from a sweep by Juan Luis Guerra who took Album Of The Year for Todo Tiene Su Hora. Guerra, who had been nominated for four awards won three, as earlier in the day he had won Best Contemporary Tropical Album for Todo Tiene Su Hora and Best Tropical Song for “Tus Besos.”

The Colombian group Monsieur Periné, with a fresh sound that, improbably, draws from swing and gypsy jazz won Best New Artist.

As is the nature of these presentations, the 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards was a music sampler that offered from merengue, pop and rock to banda music and reggaeton. But what might have set this show apart were the collaborations, including the much anticipated pairing of the once, and perhaps future, Fresh Prince, Will Smith, a multiple GRAMMY winner, and the Colombian group Bomba Estereo. Their explosive, techno-tribal  "Fiesta (Remix)" was a jolt of energy even in such high energy show.

Also the Colombian group ChocQuibTown, which earlier in the day had won Best Tropical Fusion Album with El Mismo, collaborated with the Litz Alfonso Cuban Ballet, the first time a Cuban dance group took part of a Latin GRAMMY award ceremony.

But there were also moments such as when the Mexican pop rock group Maná joined  the iconic Tigres del Norte on "Somos Más Americanos."  "They have shouted at me a thousand times/ I should go back to my country/Because there’s no room for me here," they sang. "I want to remind the gringos: I didn’t cross the border, the border crossed to me."

Maná had already made a strong political statement after winning for Best Pop-Rock Album. In his acceptance, singer and guitarist Fher Olvera conceded that "We didn't expect this," but then took the opportunity to note that the United States has a Latin population of 50 million, "it's the second largest country in which Spanish is spoken, that means we have to exercise our power. We must vote."

Reality also cracked the party atmosphere when in his acceptance for winning Best Urban Performance (for "El Perdón" with Enrique Iglesias) Nicky Jam remembered the victims of terrorism in Paris.

Another highlight was the performance by Brazilian singer and songwriter Roberto Carlos, the 2015 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year. He offered a medley of hits including a crisp, ska-tinged  "Te Amo, Te Amo,"  and, after taking a moment to give thanks,  "Propuesta," "Distancia" and "Un Millon de Amigos," which got the audience up, singing and clapping along.

Meanwhile, the incomparable Rita Moreno, who has not only won an Oscar, an Emmy, a GRAMMY and a Tony, the only Latino to do so, but was honored with a 2012 Latin Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, had one of the moments of the evening as she playfully declared herself a reggaeton fan, before announcing the winner of the Best Urban Music Album won by Tego Calderón with El Que Sabe, Sabe.

Across generations and styles the 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards spoke to the vitality of Latin music. Some familiar names, yes, but perhaps even more important, also a celebration of constant evolution.